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MIT blogger Cami M. '23

A Major Crisis by Cami M. '23

haha get it..cause..yeah,

I’m currently on a six hour flight back to my sunny, warm, and comforting hometown of Los Angeles, California (well, not quite. I live slightly outside of that: Norwalk, California.) I’m really excited to be heading home, seeing as I haven’t seen my family since August and my flight home is actually my mom’s secret surprise to my grandparents.

Over the years, I’ve found myself traveling quite a lot. I’ve flown to London every year for the past four years, just out of my mom and I’s pure love for the city. And now that I’ve chosen a university that is quite a ways away from home, I know that I will get more than comfortable with LAX and Logan.

But I don’t hate flying. In fact, I kind of like it. Sure, headaches and turbulence are the absolute worst, especially for someone who is prone to headaches and nausea (aka, me.) Yet, the quiet drone of the engine outside, the lack of wifi (unless you’re on a fancy flight or just have the money to pay for it), and the solitude of it all are things I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy. Normally I would hate being without wifi, but this means that flights just force me to think.

A lot.

In the time that I’ve been on this flight (approximately two and a half hours at this point right now), I’ve cycled through a variety of topics: my major, my living situation, my family, my future, internships, etc. Then I realized I should probably document all of this, not even just for the sake of the blog, but also as a reminder for myself that this is what I’m thinking at the moment.

Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been going through a Major crisis. Literally. I know it’s only freshmen fall, but I can’t help but worry and ask myself: What do I want to do with my life? It’s not a matter of not having any passions, but rather having too many. I want to explore so, so much and there’s only so little time. I applied to MIT thinking that I was going to be a Course 20, a biological engineering major, with a minor in biomedical engineering.

Then, that changed when I realized I wanted to pursue my passion of music and music production and change my minor to 21M, music. But after doing my FPOP, Discover Product Design, I became more interested in the product design aspect of biomedical engineering and changed my mind from 20 to 2A-20, mechanical engineering with a concentration in biomedical devices. After the first few weeks of taking 3.091 (Intro to Solid-State Chemistry), my love for chemistry was reignited and I decided I wanted to double major in 20 and 5, chemistry. Or maybe even pursue 10B, chemical-biological engineering? Also notoriously known as one of the hardest majors on campus?

But there was also the slight gnawing in the back of my mind: what about Course 6?

To give some clarity on why this is such a big question, MIT’s course 6 is probably the most popular major here, and for good reason. Over the years, MIT’s computer science has gained global recognition for producing some of the top computer scientists and engineers in the world. Fall Career Fair is commonly referred to sometimes as just a Course 6 Career Fair due to the sheer amount of companies that only scout out Course 6’s and kind of leave the rest of the courses flailing. Some people call Course 6’s sellouts. I don’t really think they are. You have a higher chance of job security, although not fully guaranteed, in pursuing Course 6. It has one of the highest average job salary when looking at first jobs post graduation. And, there’s a special program called M.Eng that gives you both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years, as opposed to the typical six. It is…pretty tempting.

But of course there are downsides, like the previously stated fact that there ARE a lot of Course 6’s and it’s probably going to be really competitive to get internships. Or that people are going to think you’re selling out, when in reality you do have a genuine passion for computer science. Or maybe you are doing it for the perks, but even then, that’s understandable since MIT really, really gives Course 6 some big perks.

Personally, prior to coming to MIT, I swore off of computer science. I took AP Computer Science A in my junior year and I was awful at it. I enjoyed it and I thought it was so fun, but I didn’t particularly think I was good at it. I spent so much time afterschool in office hours with my computer science teacher, Mr. Sarris, who patiently dealt with my very, very dumb questions such as when I asked five months into the class “Wait, but what’s a constructor?” Good times.

So why do I come back to it now? Well, I’ve started being more honest with myself. There’s a major here that I know I want to major in for sure, and that’s CMS, MIT’s comparative media studies major. This was actually a recent realization that sparked all from the Bo Burnham and Jonny Sun event. Being a Gen Z’er (born in 2002! I am in fact a Gen Z.), social media and media culture in general have greatly shaped my identity. I was on the computer by the time I was 3. I could type 80 words per minute by the time I was 7.01 I now average about 150 wpm so if this whole MIT thing doesn't work out, catch me working as a secretary. I grew up around video games and social media for as long as I can remember, from my cousin playing Call of Duty: Zombies on his X-Box and screaming curses on X-Box live to making my first Instagram account in the 6th grade to watching Twitch streams and buying my own Steam games for the first time. Media has been a constant presence in my life, and only now have I started to admit that I would love to learn more about how we interact and utilize media in the world today. CMS is split into three main areas —  Games and Interactive MediaFilm/Television, and Media Cultures. There’s such a cool variety of different classes offered and I really want to dabble in video game design and making (which will probably require some compsci experience), as well as worldbuilding, storytelling, and writing.

It’s strange because when I first applied, I was so staunchly set on my goals. I was to graduate as a Course 20 and go on to do research and design biomedical devices and all that. And now I’m here, pursuing a double major with a media major and some unknown other major that I’m still deciding on.

For the timebeing, I’m leaning towards 6-7, Computer Science and Molecular Biology, or 20. For the longest time, I never saw Course 6 as a possible major for myself because I was bad at coding. I wasn’t like some of these kids in Course 6. I didn’t know four different coding languages, I’d never coded my own website, or made my own program that signs up for PE classes for me? The most I had ever done was just the APCSA curriculum, and I even struggled with that. But now, to put it simply: I don’t care. I don’t care if I’m “bad” at it because it’s something I’m interested in. It’s something I’m willing to try and pursue because I know that passion is the first step to skillbuilding. When you have a love for something, it doesn’t matter how dogshit you are at it, because you’re going to continue to try and put in effort. And with enough of that, effort transforms into skill and progress.

I think that’s a common theme of my time here at MIT. During my time in high school, I shied away from so many things I was interested in because I didn’t feel like I was skilled. Now, I’m kind of just saying f*ck it and jumping in. I don’t know how to play poker, but sure, I’ll learn and play. I’ve never had a consistent gym routine before, so of course I’ll take Intro to Weightlifting. No, I can’t CAD at all, but I’m willing to learn. It’s…definitely a big change from the person I was in high school. In those four years, I didn’t really make any daring or bold decisions and I stayed within my comfort zone. Now, I’m open and willing and excited because there’s just so much to do here.

While I was waiting in the airport, I was mapping out my next four years here through FireRoad. Of course, this is just a loose schedule. I made four or five different options that are all dependent on what major I choose to coincide with CMS. Next semester, I plan to take some exploratory classes to help me decide what I enjoy. My floormate’s boyfriend recommended I take 20.020, Introduction to Biological Engineering Design Using Synthetic Biology. It’s a project based class aimed towards freshmen to show off the Course 20 curriculum and give insight on what it’d be like to pursue Course 20 at MIT. He said that it was the class that really solidified his decision to be a Course 20. In addition to that, I plan on taking 6.0001, MIT’s Intro to Computer Science Programming in Python class. I’m really nervous for this one since Java didn’t go too hot, but I’m really excited. I’m also hoping to get into CMS.100, Introduction to Media Studies, but it’s a really popular class so I’m unsure if I can get in.

My plans for the spring semester have changed greatly. Before it consisted of 2.00B, 20.020, 10.10, and 6.0001 — classes I was using to try and narrow down what major I wanted to pursue. I ultimately came to the decision to not pursue mechanical engineering and chemical engineering because it didn’t really align with what I wanted in a career and some aspects of the major didn’t really interest me.

I’m sure these classes and majors are bound to change again. I know that I’m going to want to splash in some language classes in there (namely Spanish, Korean, and/or American Sign Language) and, if MIT goes through with it, some 6-21M classes.02 Earlier this week MIT surveyed student interest in a joint major between computer science and music. It would potentially focus on music technology, as well AI and machine learning interaction with music. I was very, very blunt about voicing my eagerness and interest in participating in test classes for the potential major.

In terms of everything else, I’m currently having a living situation crisis (which will be another blogpost most likely), but for the timebeing, I’m going to enjoy my time at home.

  1. I now average about 150 wpm so if this whole MIT thing doesn't work out, catch me working as a secretary. back to text
  2. Earlier this week MIT surveyed student interest in a joint major between computer science and music. It would potentially focus on music technology, as well AI and machine learning interaction with music. I was very, very blunt about voicing my eagerness and interest in participating in test classes for the potential major. back to text